Microsoft Rolls Out (Private) Beta Of Office Communications Server

Office Communications Server 2007

As it has already stated, Microsoft is adding VoIP capabilities, Web conferencing as well as incremental chat and presence improvements. Office Communications Server 2007, the successor product to Live Communications Server is due in the second quarter of 2007, said Paul Duffy, group product manager. (The "Live" moniker was dropped to avoid confusion with Microsoft's hosted Office Live and Windows Live efforts.)

With this release, Microsoft is making Web conferencing capabilities available for on-premise use where it had previously offered via hosting in Live Meeting.

Duffy said while Microsoft is working with the major PBX vendors to assure its offering will work well with their new IP-based PBX switches, it expects a bevy of gateways to be available to let it also work with legacy PBXes. "We're focused on a continuum of choice so users won't have to rip and replace legacy PBXes. The gateways will sit between the switches and our product," he noted.

That means solution provider partners are not limited by the PBX gear installed in customer accounts, he noted.

Sponsored post

This product is the latest piece of Microsoft's much-touted unified communications push which puts it into competition with some of the same gear makers it otherwise partners with. This strategy, observers say, puts Microsoft and networking leader Cisco Systems in each others crosshairs. Cisco, like Microsoft, offers instant messaging and Web conferencing for businesses.

Duffy stressed the coopetition angle. Microsoft's Communicator client will work with Cisco equipment and other gear, he noted. "We want to deliver the kind of interoperability our customers want."

IBM last week said it was adding planned interoperability between its SameTime IM and Web conferencing offering and Google Talk and Yahoo IM networks. It already offered AIM interop. Sametime, like Microsoft's offering supports the popular SIP/SIMPLE standard for IM and chat. Unlike Microsoft, IBM SameTime also supports the Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol, or XMPP, protocol, popularized by Jabber.

Duffy said the company would consider adding XMPP support if demand develops but now sees SIP/SIMPLE s the "core" protocol because of the momentum it's achieved.

In other Microsoft communications news, the company released Exchange Server 2007 e-mail to manufacturing. This edition of the server adds voice technology heretofore found in Microsoft Speech Server.